Archive for the ‘read aloud resources’ Category

Creating Bookworms: The Read Aloud

September 16, 2010

As a new school year begins for most students, I believe it’s a good time to renew our commitment to our children.  This includes ways to include daily literacy activities for our youngest children.  This month on Literacy Toolbox, I will share ways parents and educators can work to create their own little bookworms.

Two decades ago in Becoming a Nation of Readers (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985) reading aloud was called “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading” (p. 23).  I’ve written about read alouds before and I’ll continue to write about them because I believe that they are so important in our children’s daily literacy life.  Children absorb everything we say and do.  How many times have you heard something come out of your child’s mouth that sounds just like you?  Reading can have the same effect.  If our children see us read or hear us read, they will want to be just like us!  Reading aloud to our children goes a long way to creating little bookworms!

Chances are, if you are reading this, you already know the importance of reading aloud and probably do so every day.  I will simply provide you with a few resources to help you along the way:

The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition by Jim Trelease

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

What Should I Read Aloud? A Guide to 200 Best-selling Picture Books by Nancy Anderson

What to Read When: The Books and Stories to Read with Your Child–and All the Best Times to Read Them by Pam Allyn

Do you have any “go-to” resources to create bookworms out of your children?

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

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Making Predictions with Bear is Scared by Karma Wilson

July 8, 2010

Today’s guest post is by Amy Mascott of teachmama.  On her blog, Amy shares how she tries to sneak in some sort of learning for her own children in the every day.  Nothing super-fancy, expensive, or complicated–just learning through meaningful time and play together.

Predicting is one of the easiest comprehension strategies to use with emerging readers, and like many of these important components of early literacy, predicting can be taught even before children can read on their own.

Today, while Owen, Cora, and I took a break from watching our electrician make sense of some aging and finicky outlets, we picked up a book I ordered a few weeks ago but had not yet read with the kiddos.

It is written by an author we all adore–Karma Wilson–and the title itself had me wondering what on earth would make our poor, beloved bear feel scared.

It happens to be another masterpiece, full of rich language spun through a strong story, and it was perfect to work on predicting.

  • Predicting: Predicting, as a reading strategy, is actually just using pictures or text to make a guess about what will happen in piece of literature. Even our little ones can do this by looking at the cover of a book, the illustrations on a page, or hearing the title or story read aloud.

We began by looking at the cover of Bear Feels Scared and by talking about what we saw:

I said, This is a new Bear book for us, and the title is ‘Bear Feels Scared’. I wonder what Bear is afraid of. Hmmmm. Look at the cover. What do you see?

Owen mentioned that there were things in front of Bear’s face, like maybe rain or snow. He also said, It doesn’t look like it’s sunny out.

You’re right, Owen. It doesn’t look like it’s a warm and sunny day, does it? Cora, what time of day does it look like it is for Bear and his friends? What do you think?

Cora said, Maybe night-night time for them? (Woo-hoo!)

Yep, I think you’re right. It’s dark, it’s rainy and windy, and some of Bear’s friends have worried faces. What might make Bear feel scared in this book? Can you make a prediction? A prediction just means you’re making a guess about something.

Owen said, Maybe Bear is afraid of the dark.

Cora added, He thinks there’s a monster in his room. (Oh my gosh–maybe this is why Cora’s been up waaaay too late recently?! Maybe this is why she’s been so cranky? Note to self: tackle monster topic asap.)

You both made some really good predictions; Bear may be afraid of the dark, and maybe he does think there’s a monster in his room. Let’s read and find out.

About mid-way through the story, we chatted about their predictions; we confirmed that it was indeed nighttime, and we learned that what made Bear feel scared was that he was lost and lonely in the dark and he wanted to be home with his friends. Yeah for Owen and Cora! They learned about predicting!

As I read the story, we chatted about the author’s diction, or word choice:

What does it mean when the ‘sun starts to set‘?
-If I ‘mutter‘ something, I might say it like. . .
-When Bear ‘sheds big tears‘, what is he doing?
-Aaaaahhhhh, I just ‘sighed a big sigh‘. Let me hear you both sigh a big sigh.

-Later, when Maddy asked me to read it to her before bed, we chatted about other words: ‘lumber’, ‘flounce’, ‘trudge’, and ‘cluster’.

Ms. Wilson throws in so many super words here, it’s hard to let them go with an initial reading, but for us, the ‘Bear’ books are read and re-read, so it’s easy–and better for little brains–to focus on just two or three things per reading so as not to lose the rhythm of the language or overall storyline.
I’ve had predicting on the brain ever since I read an article in this month’s Reading Teacher, a chapter from Liang and Galda’s Children’s Literature in the Reading Program, 3rd edThe chapter actually focused on ways to combine response activities and comprehension strategies to enhance students’ engagement–and appreciation–of texts. It was really interesting and is worth checking out. The focus on responding and practicing predicting was actually with upper elementary students but also mentioned were some cool ways of using responding and practicing visualizing for the younger readers. I hope to try them out soon.

Liang and Giada say that “predicting is easy to teach and is an easy strategy for students to learn” and that “it is also a strategy that research shows to be quite powerful in helping students better understand a text.”


Predicting–try it
today because:

  • it can be used with just about anything, including just about any decent children’s book;
  • it gets kiddos thinking (woo-hoo!);
  • it keeps them engaged in the text because they wonder if what they think will happen actually will (they’ll feel like little detectives!);
  • it will help them to remember what they’ve read;
  • if we start modeling–and practicing–these reading strategies now, with our little ones, our kiddos will become adept at doing these kind of things on their own as they become stronger readers;
  • soon predicting will be just another natural reading activity that our kids will do unconsciously, which will make them better readers and thinkers. (seriously!)

And that was our sneaky learning for today. Thanks, Bear!

Thanks, Karma Wilson! One last thing that makes me feel like I want to hug Karma Wilson and be her BFF–not only because she, too, is a mama of three and writes books I could only dream of writing myself–but her website totally rocks. Tons of resources for parentscool activities to use in conjunction with many of her books, pictures of her adorable familylinks to her blog and Twitter name, and it’s just plain gorgeous.

Amy Mascott, a Reading Specialist and High School English teacher, is also the creator of we teach, a forum for parents and teachers to share, learn, and grow.

Parent Reading Resources: How to Get Your Child to Love Reading by Esme Raji Codell

June 29, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Written by an educator and librarian, How to Get Your Child to Love Reading: For Ravenous and Reluctant Readers Alike is a 500+ page guide for parents!  Codell provides activities, ideas, and inspiration for exploring everything in the world through books.  Codell, resists grouping books by age level.  Instead, she offers a simple method for determining whether a book is too difficult while pointing out that kids may listen on a much higher level than they read. She offers scores of thematic book lists parents can use to inspire young readers, ranging from topics as diverse as medieval England to dinosaurs or hiccups.

Inside this fantastic resource, you will find:

  • Over 3,000 hand-picked titles on every subject under the sun
  • Hundreds of child-tested, teacher-approved craft ideas, storytimes, book-based parties, mad-scientist experiments, cooking forays, web-site recommendations, and reading-club activities
  • Reassuring and simple approaches to reading aloud with children from birthday through eighth grade
  • Support for parents of reluctant readers and enriching ideas for eager readers
  • Extensive indexes for locating books by subject, author, and title
  • Suggestions for volunteer activities and for getting involved in your child’s school
  • Easy access to award-winning books
  • Exciting ways to reward reading progress

This book is an indispensable resource for all parents who want to engage their children in reading.  And like Jim Trelease before her, Codell also has her own website where she continues to share information on reading aloud for parents, educators, and librarians.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Parent Reading Resources: A Parent’s Guide to Reading with Your Young Child by Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright

June 24, 2010

Parent Reading Resources: A Parent’s Guide to Reading with Your Young Child by Dr. Susan B. Neuman and Tanya S. Wright

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).  

A Parent’s Guide to Reading With Your Young Child is an easy read resource for parents of children from birth to age five.  Bright and colorful, it provides parents with a quick, “go-to” resource for research based early language learning benefits.  Each chapter is broken down by age and provides developmental information as well as a reading list for that age group.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Parent Reading Resources: Picture Books

June 17, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Over the weekend, I started thinking about how I might be able to shake things up a bit around my own house this summer.  We read all the time, and often times I wonder if my kids are getting a bit bored with the books we read.  I certainly do sometimes!  So, I decided to turn to my Twitter friends and Facebook followers to get their opinion on picture books.  I asked for their top two favorite new or semi-new picture books.

I figure, if I feel the need to shake things up a bit in my house this summer, you just might feel the same!  So, I’m super excited to share the list with you.  I’ve listed contributors by their Twitter name and if they have a blog, I’ve noted that as well:

@beckymaher suggested Can I Play Too? (An Elephant and Piggie Book) and City Dog, Country Frog both by Mo Willems (and if you are a regular reader of Literacy Toolbox, then you know I love MO!)

@TeachJohnson suggested Grace for President by Kelly DiPucchio

Justine blogs at Random Thoughts of a Teacher

@Cathy_Blackler suggested  Adios, Oscar!: A Butterfly Fable by Peter Elwell

Cathy blogs at Picture Books, Novels and Bios, Oh My!

@TWRCtankcom suggested Piggie Pie! by Margie Palatini and Take Me Out of the Bathtub and Other Silly Dilly Songs by Alan Katz

Julie blogs at TWRCtank

My current favorites are My Garden by Kevin Henkes and Edwina, the Dinosaur Who Didn’t Know She Was Extinct
by Mo Willems.  The latter isn’t exactly new, but is a current favorite.  And, while I have heard of all of the books recommended here, I have not read any of them to my children yet, so I believe a trip to the book store or the library is in order today (the first day of summer vaca for my kiddos!)

What are your top two favorite picture books to read with children? Leave them in the comments or join the discussion on Facebook!

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Parent Reading Resources: Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever by Mem Fox

June 15, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever is another **must have**  resource for parents.  Mem Fox, a renowned Australian author, begins the book with an anecdote about her own daughter.  When her daughter begins kindergarten, she learns from her teacher that she can in fact already read.  “How?” asks Fox.  The answer: from the time she was born until she set foot in kindergarten, Fox read aloud to her.  That was all it took.  This is a powerful anecdote to say the least; but one that I hold personally true, because my son began kindergarten the same way.  Of course, this is not to say that if you read aloud to your child every day from the time they are born until they step foot in kindergarten that they will be reading by kindergarten.  All children learn differently and learning to read is developmental.  Reading aloud to your child provides an amazing advantage for your child and certainly prepares him/her to become a reader.  Don’t be discouraged if your child begins kindergarten and is not a reader yet.  It will come in time.

In Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever, Fox explains that babies are born learners.  She discusses the importance of books in the home and stresses the value of a read-aloud ritual – all topics you’ve likely seen in posts here!

While Fox does include a chapter on how to read aloud, which may be helpful to some parents, she does not include age-appropriate reading lists for parents.  For this reason alone, I would likely pair Reading Magic with Jim Trelease’s, The Read Aloud Handbook.

Still, Reading Magic: Why Reading Aloud to Our Children Will Change Their Lives Forever is another great resource that will serve parents well as they work to raise readers in their home.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Parent Resources: The Read-Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

June 8, 2010

This month I plan to post resources to help parents as they try to raise a reader.  Perhaps through the resources I share, you’ll find something to help you engage your child in reading over the summer (and beyond!).

Many of you may be familiar withThe Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition by Jim Trelease.  It has been in publication for over 30 years. It was, in fact, one of the first books recommended to me when I began teaching almost thirteen years ago.  The information in it is timeless and I still refer to this book when I am in need of solid research related to reading aloud, or to help me as I parent my two children.  I have begun to give it as a gift to friends who have new babies.  If it were up to me, every new parent would leave the hospital with a copy in their hands.

In his sixth edition (2006), Trelease:

  • Explains how reading aloud awakens children’s imaginations and improves their language skills
  • Shows how to begin reading aloud and which books to choose
  • Suggests ways to create reader-friendly homes, classrooms, and library environments
  • Gives tips on luring children away from the television
  • Shows how to integrate silent reading with read-aloud sessions
  • Shares valuable lessons from Oprah’s Book Club, the Harry Potter books, and the Internet
  • Includes a brand-new chapter of stories and testimonials from parents and teachers
  • Offers an up-to-date treasury of 1,000 books that are great for reading aloud – from picture books to novels – and highlights some of Trelease’s favorites by theme: friendship, sports, dogs, fairy-tale parodies, and more.

This book is a treasure and must read for all parents who want to engage their children in reading.  And if this isn’t enough, Jim Trelease also has his own website where he continues to share information on reading aloud for parents, educators, librarians – really anyone who wants a child to make books into friends, not enemies.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Making Poetry Part of Your Read Aloud Repertoire

April 22, 2010

April is National Poetry Month, and even though the month is almost over I wanted to write a few posts that touched on poetry.  I think poetry is often an overlooked genre when parents look for a good text for reading aloud.  But, reading aloud poetry can be so much fun and it can help your child’s ability to read as well.  Poetry is a lively use of language and should be read aloud for pure enjoyment.  Here are a few tips on ways to incorporate poetry into your read aloud repertoire:

  • Choose poems that will engage your children.
  • Read the poem slowly and with meaning.  Emphasize words.  Allow the cadence of the poem to shine through.
  • Talk about how the words rhyme and how the poet used the words to convey meaning (depending on the age of your child).
  • If your child is able to read, have him or her read aloud a poem or two to you.  This will help build fluency within a reader.
  • Just have fun with it!  Be silly and enjoy the poems!

A few poetry suggestions:

Runny Babbit: A Billy Sook by Shel Silverstein

Something Big Has Been Here by Jack Prelutsky

The 20th Century Children’s Poetry Treasury (Treasured Gifts for the Holidays)

If you are interested in a bit more complex poetry or complex ways to incorporate poetry, I’ve been reviewing poetry picture books at Picture This!  Teaching with Picture Books all month.  So far, I’ve reviewed Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes, R is for Rhyme: A Poetry Alphabet, and Poetry Speaks to Children.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Sneaking Strategy Lessons into Your Read Alouds

April 15, 2010

Do you read aloud to your children every day, but wonder what you can do to sneak in a little extra learning?  Reading aloud is a wonderful opportunity to share a few quality minutes with our children snuggling and enjoying a book.  But, did you know you can easily transform a read aloud into an instructional moment with very little prep and without your child even knowing that he may be learning something, too?  All it takes is a few questions before, during, and after reading.

Before Reading

  • What do you already know about (topic of book)? (activating background knowledge)
  • Look at the picture on the cover and the title of the book.  What do you think is going to happen? (making predictions)

During Reading

  • As you read, confirm your child’s prediction.  Was it correct? If not, discuss what happened instead.
  • Ask your child questions to clear up points of confusion as you read.

After Reading

  • What does this book remind you of?  (making connections to the text)
  • Ask your child to retell you the story.  What happened at the beginning?  The middle?  The end?   (summarize the text)

These questions touch on common comprehension strategies that good readers use to understand text.  If we emphasize and model how to use some of these strategies at home, we begin to create a solid reading foundation for our children.  A few questions and you’ve “kicked it up a notch”!

If you would like more information on teaching common comprehension strategies to your child, I suggest reading 7 Keys to Comprehension: How to Help Your Kids Read It and Get It! by Susan Zimmerman and Chryse Hutchins.

This post originally appeared as a guest post on Classroom Talk.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.

Resisting the Urge to Create a Reading Superstar

March 12, 2010

These days, moms should really have the title of “Supermom”.  Not only do we have to juggle work, kids, husband, and maybe a little time for ourselves, but we also feel the pressure to make sure our kids are ready to read, if not already reading, before they begin kindergarten.  Where does this pressure come from?  Does it come from the government and their constantly revised educational standards for our children?  Are we inflicting it on ourselves?  Perhaps it’s a little bit of both.  But is any of it really necessary?

Certainly we want our children to become readers.  And we want them to be successful, life-long, engaged readers.  But I’m afraid, when the pressure is too great, parents resort to drill and practice in an attempt to get their kids reading.  I know it seems so easy to pick up a workbook at the store and have kids practice their letters or sight words.  Unfortunately, this is not going to work.  In fact, it will probably have the opposite effect.  Typically kids will simply disengage from reading altogether because they were never able to connect with reading as a pleasurable experience.  I firmly believe that parents are a child’s first teacher.  I also believe that we can teach them without stressing them (or ourselves) out!  And, you don’t need an education background to do so (let me tell you that my having a degree in education has only added more unnecessary pressure – self inflicted, I’m sure)!

So instead of trying to create reading superstars, what if we just agreed to try to create readers?  Happy, healthy, engaged, and interested readers in two simple steps!  Here’s how:

  1. Read aloud every day.  Over two decades ago, Becoming a Nation of Readers: The Report of the Commission on Reading (Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985) concluded, “the single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children” (pg. 23).  In other words, reading aloud to our children is the most important thing we can do for them if we want to create a reader.  In his groundbreaking guide for parents, The Read-Aloud Handbook: Sixth Edition, Jim Trelease stated, “The more you read, the better you get at it; the better you get at it, the more you like it; and the more you like it, the more you do it” (2006).
  2. Encourage children to choose their own books based on interests.  I firmly believe that choice is a huge indicator in whether or not a child will enjoy reading.  Children have so little control in their lives that choosing books is one thing they can control.  Certainly children should be able to choose the books they want read aloud to them, but consider allowing children to choose their own books when in the library or bookstore. . . even if they aren’t of the best quality or at your child’s reading level, you are sending the message that his/her choices are important.

I read to my son every day from the day he was born.  I allowed him choice in his reading materials (even when I didn’t want to read it).  We played simple games with literacy basics.  I did nothing else!  I didn’t drill him to death.  I didn’t test him on his letters, sight words, etc.  Yet, when he began kindergarten he was already reading on a first grade level.  I didn’t even know he could read!

That’s it!  No need for workbooks or drill and practice.  Just simple reading and choice in reading materials.

©2010 by Dawn Little for Literacy Toolbox. All Rights Reserved.  All Amazon links are affiliate links and may result in my receiving a small commission. This is at no additional cost to you.